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Full text of "The poems of Maria Lowell"

Digitized by the Internet Archive 
in 2013 



http://archive.org/details/poennsofmarialoweOOIowe 



POEMS 

OF 

MARIA LOWELL 




THE POEMS OF 
MARIA LOWELL 



CAMBRIDGE 

THE RIVERSIDE PRESS 
1907 



CONTENTS 

THE maiden's harvest PAGE 3 

SONG 6 

THE ALPINE SHEEP 9 

AFRICA 12 

JESUS AND THE DOVE 19 

THE MORNING-GLORY 23 

THE SLAVE-MOTHER 25 

NECKLACES 27 

CADIZ 28 

ROME 30 

THE GRAVE OF KEATS 31 

AVIGNON 33 

ROUEN, PLACE DE LA PUCELLE 35 

THE SICK-ROOM 37 

AN OPIUM FANTASY 39 

SONNET 41 

SONNET 42 

SONNET 43 

SONNET 44 

MEMORIES OF WATERS 45 



NOTE 

Maria White was bom in Watertown, Massachusetts, on the 8th 
of July, 1821. She was married to James Russell Lowell on the 26th 
of December, 1844. She died October 27, 1853. 

In the months following her death The Poems of Maria Low- 
ell were prepared for publication by Mr. Lowell, and they were pri- 
vately printed at the Riverside Press in 1855. A small edition was 
distributed among Lowell's friends and well-wishers, and the volume 
is now a rarity treasured by its few fortunate possessors. It has long 
deserved reprinting, both for its own sake as a singularly pure and 
winning expression of the temper of those years and for its interest 
as a revelation of a jflawless marriage of true minds. A few years 
before his death Lowell entertained the project of reissuing the 
poems with some additions from manuscript and periodical sources ; 
but as he died without carrying it out, it has been thought best to 
repubhsh the little book in its original slenderness and simplicity. 



POEMS 



THE MAIDEN'S HARVEST 

There goeth, with the early light. 

Across a barren plain, 
One who, with face as morning bright, 

Singeth, "I come again! 

** And every grain I scatter free, 

An hundred-fold shall yield, 
Till waveth like a golden sea 

This dark and barren field." 

She casteth seed upon the ground 
From out her pure white hand. 

And little winds steal up around 
To bear it through the land. 

She strikes her harp, she sings her song; 
She sings so loud and clear, 
'* Arise! arise! ye sleeping throng, 
And bud and blossom here!" 



[4] 

When o*er the hills she passed away, 

The Spring remembered her, 
And came, with sun and air of May, 

The barren earth to stir. 

And dropping dew the spot did love, 

And lingered there till noon ; 
And winds and rains moved on above 

In softly-changing tune. 

So, when the Autumn cometh round. 
The golden heads bend low, — 

And near and nearer to the ground 
Their royal beard doth flow. 

The poor rejoice; in throngs they come 
To reap the dropping grain ; — 

Their voices rise in busy hum : 

" Who, who hath sowed the plain ? 

And who hath wrought such bounteous cheer 
Where all before was dead ? '* 

They bless the unseen Giver dear 
Who gave this daily bread. 



[5] 

With harp in hand, a maiden bright 
Passed slowly by the throng. 

With face as fair as sunset light 
The maiden sang her song. 

' In morning-time I sowed this plain, 
Blest may the evening be. 

Which gives back every little grain 
An hundred-fold to me ! " 



SONG 

Oh bird, thou dartest to the sun 

When morning beams first spring, 

And I, Hke thee, would swiftly run, 
As sweetly would I sing : 

Thy burning heart doth draw thee up 

Unto the source of fire; 
Thou drinkest from its glowing cup, 

And quenchest thy desire. 

Oh dew, thou droppest soft below. 
And pearlest all the ground. 

Yet when the noontide comes, I know 
Thou never canst be found ; 

I would like thine had been my birth, 

Then I, without a sigh. 
Might sleep my night through on the earth, 

To waken in the sky. 



[7] 

Oh clouds, ye little tender sheep, 

Pastured in fields of blue, 
While moon and stars your fold can keep. 

And gently shepherd you, — 

Let me, too, follow in the train 
That flocks across the night, 

Or lingers on the open plain 

With new-shorn fleeces white. 

Oh singing winds, that wander far. 

Yet always seem at home, 
And freely play 'twixt star and star, 

Along the bending dome, 

I often listen to your song, 

Yet never hear you say 
One word of all the happy worlds 

That shine so far away. 

For they are free, ye all are free. 
And bud, and dew, and light, 

Can dart upon the azure sea, 
And leave me to my night; 



[8] 

Oh would like theirs had been my birth. 

Then I, without a sigh, 
Might sleep this night through on the earth 

To waken in the sky. 



THE ALPINE SHEEP 

ADDRESSED TO A FRIEND, AFTER THE LOSS 
OF A CHILD 

When on my ear your loss was knelled, 

And tender sympathy upburst, 
A little spring from memory welled. 

Which once had quenched my bitter thirst. 

And I was fain to bear to you 

A portion of its mild relief, 
That it might be as healing dew. 

To steal some fever from your grief. 

After our child's untroubled breath 

Up to the Father took its way, 
And on our home the shade of Death 

Like a long twilight haunting lay, 

And friends came round, with us to weep 

Her little spirit's swift remove. 
The story of the Alpine sheep 

Was told to us by one we love. 



[10] 

They, in the valley's sheltering care, 

Soon crop the meadow's tender prime, 

And when the sod grows brown and bare, 

The shepherd strives to make them climb 

To airy shelves of pasture green. 

That hang along the mountain's side, 

Where grass and flowers together lean. 

And down through mist the sunbeams slide ; 

But nought can tempt the timid things 
The steep and rugged path to try. 

Though sweet the shepherd calls and sings, 
And seared below the pastures lie. 

Till in his arms their lambs he takes, 

Along the dizzy verge to go. 
Then, heedless of the rifts and breaks, 

They follow on, o'er rock and snow. 

And in those pastures, lifted fair, 

More dewy-soft than lowland mead. 

The shepherd drops his tender care, 

And sheep and lambs together feed. 



[11 ] 

This parable, by Nature breathed, 

Blew on me as the South-wind free 

O'er frozen brooks, that flow unsheathed 
From icy thraldom, to the sea. 

A blissful vision, through the night. 
Would all my happy senses sway, 

Of the good Shepherd on the height. 
Or climbing up the starry way, 

Holding our little lamb asleep, — 

While, like the murmur of the sea, 

Sounded that voice along the deep. 
Saying, " Arise and follow me ! " 



AFRICA 

She sat where the level sands 
Sent back the sky's fierce glare; 
She folded her mighty hands, 
And waited with calm despair, 
"While the red sun dropped down the streaming air. 

Her throne was broad and low, 
Builded of cinnamon ; — 
Huge ivory, row on row. 
Varying its columns dun, 
Barred with the copper of the setting sun. 

Up from the river came 
The low and sullen roar 
Of lions, with eyes of flame. 
That haunted its reedy shore. 
And the neigh of the hippopotamus, 
Trampling the watery floor. 



[13] 

Her great dusk face no light 
From the sunset-glow could take; 
Dark as the primal night 
Ere over the earth God spake 
It seemed for her a dawn could never break. 

She opened her massy lips, 
And sighed with a dreary sound, 
As when by the sand's eclipse 
Bewildered men are bound. 
And like a train of mourners 
The columned winds sweep round. 

She said : " My torch at fount of day 
I lit, now smouldering in decay; 
Through futures vast I grope my way. 

" I was sole Queen the broad earth through : 
My children round my knees upgrew, 
And from my breast sucked Wisdom's dew. 

" Day after day to them I hymned; 
Fresh knowledge still my song o'erbrimmed. 
Fresh knowledge, which no time had dimmed. 



[ 14] 

" I sang of Numbers ; soon they knew 
The spell they wrought, and on the blue 
Foretold the stars in order due; — 

" Of Music; and they fain would rear 
Something to tell its influence clear; 
Uprose my Memnon, with nice ear, 

" To wait upon the morning air, 
Until the sun rose from his lair 
Swifter, at greet of lutings rare. 

*' I sang of Forces whose great bands 
Could knit together feeble hands 
To uprear Thought's supreme commands; 

" Then, like broad tents, beside the Nile 
They pitched the Pyramids' great pile; 
Where light and shade divided smile; 

" And on white walls, in stately show, 
Did Painting with fair movement go, 
Leading the long processions slow. 



[13] 

'* All laws that wondrous Nature taught, 
To serve my children's skill I brought, 
And still for fresh devices sought. 

* What need to tell ? they lapsed away, 
Their great light quenched in twilight gray, 
Within their winding tombs they lay ; 

'* And centuries went slowly by, 
And looked into my sleepless eye. 
Which only turned to see them die. 

* The winds like mighty spirits came. 
Alive and pure and strong as flame. 
At last to lift me from my shame; 

'* For oft I heard them onward go, 
Felt in the air their great wings row. 
As down they dipped in journeying slow. 

" Their course they steered above my head, 
One strong voice to another said, — 

* Why sits she here so drear and dead ? 



[16] 

* * Her kingdom stretches far away; 
Beyond the utmost verge of day, 
Her myriad children dance and play.' 

" Then throbbed my mother's heart again, 
Then knew my pulses finer pain. 
Which wrought like fire within my brain. 

" I sought my young barbarians, where 
A mellower light broods on the air. 
And heavier blooms swing incense rare. 

" Swart-skinned, crisp-haired, they did not shun 
The burning arrows of the sun ; 
Erect as palms stood every one. 

" I said, — These shall live out their day 
In song and dance and endless play; 
The children of the world are they. 

" Nor need they delve with heavy spade; 
Their bread, on emerald dishes laid. 
Sets forth a banquet in each shade. 



[17] 

" Only the thoughtful bees shall store 
Their honey for them evermore; 
They shall not learn such toilsome lore; 

" Their finest skill shall be to snare 
The birds that flaunt along the air, 
And deck them in their feathers rare. 

" So centuries went on their way, 
And brought fresh generations gay 
On my savannahs green to play. 

" There came a change. They took my free, 
My careless ones, and the great sea 
Blew back their endless sighs to me : 

" With earthquake shudderings oft the mould 
Would gape ; I saw keen spears of gold 
Thrusting red hearts down, not yet cold 

" But throbbing wildly; dreadful groans 
Stole upward through Earth's ribbed stones 
And crept along through all my zones. 



[18] 

I sought again my desert bare, 
But still they followed on the air, 
And still I hear them everywhere. 

So sit I dreary, desolate, 

Till the slow-moving hand of Fate 

Shall lift me from my sunken state." 

Her great lips closed upon her moan; 
Silently sate she on her throne, 
Rigid and black, as carved in stone. 



JESUS AND THE DOVE 

A CATHOLIC LEGEND 
TO A. H. W. 

With patient hand Jesus in clay once wrought, 
And made a snowy dove that upward flew : 

Dear child, from all things draw some holy thought, 
That like his dove they may fly upward too. 

Mary, the mother good and mild. 
Went forth one summer's day, 

That Jesus and his comrades all 
In meadows green might play. 

To find the brightest, freshest flowers. 
They search the meadows round, 

They twined them all into a wreath, 
And little Jesus crowned. 

Tired of play, they came at last 

And sat at Mary's feet, 
While Jesus asked his mother dear 

A story to repeat. 



[20] 

' And we,'* said one, " from out this clay 
Will make some little birds. 

So shall we all sit quietly 

And heed the mother's words." 

Then Mary, in her gentle voice, 

Told of a little child. 
Who lost her way one dark, dark night 

Upon a dreary wild ; 

And how an angel came to her, 
And made all bright around. 

And took the trembling little one 

From off the damp, hard ground ; 

And how he bore her in his arms 

Up to the blue so far. 
And how he laid her fast asleep, 

Down in a silver star. 

The children sit at Mary's feet. 
But not a word they say. 

So busily their fingers work 

To mould the birds of clay. 



[21] 

But now the clay that Jesus held 
And turned unto the light, 

And moulded with a patient touch, 
Changed to a perfect white. 

And slowly grew within his hands 

A fair and gentle dove. 
Whose eyes unclose, whose wings unfold. 

Beneath his look of love. 

The children drop their birds of clay, 
And by his side they stand. 

To look upon the wondrous dove, 
He holds within his hand. 

And when he bends and softly breathes. 
Wide are the wings outspread. 

And when he bends and breathes again, 
It hovers round his head. 

Slowly it rises in the air 

Before their eager eyes. 
And with a white and steady wing. 

Higher and higher flies. 



[22] 

The children all stretch forth their arms, 

As if to draw it down, 
Dear Jesus made the little dove 

From out the clay so brown. 

' Canst thou not live with us below, 

Thou little dove of clay, 
And let us hold thee in our hands, 

And feed thee every day ? 

* The little dove it hears us not. 

But higher still doth fly; 
It could not live with us below. 
Its home is in the sky." 

Mary, who silently saw all. 

That mother true and mild. 

Folded her hands upon her breast. 
And kneeled before her child. 



THE MORNING-GLORY 

We wreathed about our darling's head the morning-glory 

bright ; 
Her little face looked out beneath, so full of life and light, 
So lit as with a sunrise, that we could only say 
She is the morning-glory bright, and her poor types are they. 

So always from that happy time we called her by that name, 
And very fitting did it seem, for sure as morning came. 
Behind her cradle-bars she 'd smile to catch the first faint ray. 
As from the trellis smiles the flower, and opens to the day. 

But not so beautiful they rear their airy cups of blue, 

As turned her sweet eyes to the light, brimmed with sleep's 

tender dew; 
And not so close their tendrils fine round their supports are 

thrown. 
As those dear arms, whose outstretched plea called all hearts 

to her own. 

We used to think how she had come, even as comes the flower, 
The last and perfect added gift, to crown Love's morning hour ; 
And how in her was imaged forth the love we could not say. 
As on the little dew-drops round shines back the heart of day. 



[24] 

We never could have thought, O God ! that she would wither 

up 
Almost before the day was done, like the morning-glory's cup ; 
We never could have thought that she would bow her noble 

head. 
Till she lay stretched before our sight, withered, and cold, 

and dead. 

The morning-glory's blossoming will soon be coming round. 
We see their rows of heart-shaped leaves upspringing from the 

ground. 
The tender things the winter killed, renew again their birth, 
But the glory of our morning has passed away from earth. 

In vain, O Earth! our aching eyes stretch over thy green 

plain. 
Too harsh thy dews, too cold thine air, her spirit to detain ; 
But in the groves of Paradise, full surely we shall see 
Our morning-glory beautiful twine round our dear Lord's 

knee. 



THE SLAVE-MOTHER 

Her new-born child she holdeth, but feels within her heart 
It is not hers, but his who can out-bid her in the mart; 
And through the gloomy midnight her prayer goes up on high, 
"God grant my little helpless one in helplessness may die!" 

" If she must live to womanhood, oh may she never know, 
Uncheered by mother's happiness, the mother's depth of woe ! 
And may I lie within my grave before that day I see. 
When she sits, as I am sitting, with a slave-child on her 
knee!" 

The little arms steal upward, and then upon her breast 
She feels the brown and velvet hands that never are at rest; 
No sense of joy they waken, but thrills of bitter pain, — 
She thinks of him who counteth o'er the gold those hands 
shall gain. 

Then on her face she looketh, but not as mother proud. 
And seeth how her features, as from out a dusky cloud. 
Are tenderly unfolding, far softer than her own. 
And how upon the rounded cheek a fairer light is thrown; 



[26] 

And she trembles in her agony, and on her prophet heart 

There drops a gloomy shadow down, that never can de- 
part, — 

She cannot look upon that face, where, in the child's pure 
bloom. 

Is writ with such dread certainty the woman's loathsome 
doom. 

She cannot bear to know her child must be as she hath been, 
Yet she sees but one deliverance from infamy and sin, — 
And so she cries at midnight, with exceeding bitter cry, 
* God grant my little helpless one in helplessness may die!" 



NECKLACES 

That was a fair one which a Queen 
Pulled the great pearl from, in her spleen, 
And drank its rich corroded sheen; 

And dazzling bright was that which met, 
And clasped its fatal diamond net 
About Maria Antoinette; 

And cool and fresh the dripping band 
Which poor Undine, with trembling hand, 
Snatched from the wave for Hildebrand ; 

But better mine, a little thread 

Of jasmine blossoms, tipped with red. 

As if in breaking they had bled. 

It was all sweetness, and to one 
Whose life on shore had just begun. 
The very best beneath the sun ! 

Malta, August 23, 1851. 
[Note. The boys in the streets of Malta string the jasmine blossoms 
and give or sell them to the passers-by.] 



CADIZ 

We saw fair Cadiz gleam out suddenly, 

White as if builded of the foam of Ocean ; 

White as a bride, with orange blossoms free 

Scattered upon her; and it seemed to me 

Her sweet breath met us with the wind's least motion. 

And by her side a cloudy mountain rose, 

Its top enfolding soft a purple tower; 

Such shapes sometimes our new-world sunset shows. 

But thou, old mountain ! on thy sides still flower 

The very blooms of poor Zarifa's bower. 



And from thy purple turrets leaning low. 

Thy course is seen, oh shining Guadalquiver ! 

Rushing towards the sea, its waves to strew 
With leaves of old Romance, 
And blend with Ocean's flow 

Fresh sighs for youth and beauty gone forever. 



[29] 

Fade once again on the horizon's rim, 
Take back the vision and the sweet emotion, 
Oh lovely Cadiz ! bride so fair and dim ! 
Drained is the cup thou filled'st me to the brim. 
And dropped within the bluest wave of Ocean ! 

Written at sea, off Cadiz. 



ROME 

The sun had set, the city gates were passed, 

Up swelled the mighty dome; 
The dream of childhood had come true at last. 

We were in Rome ! 

The fountains trembled in their light and shade. 

The pale new moon was dropping down the sky. 

The pillars of the stately colonnade 
Seemed to be marching by. 

And Rome lay all before us in its glory. 

Its glory and its beautiful decay, 
But, like the student in the oft-read story, 

I could have turned away. 

To the still chamber with its half-closed shutter, 
Where the beloved father lay in pain. 

To sit beside him in contentment utter, 
Never to part again. 



THE GRAVE OF KEATS 

But one rude stone for him whose song 
Revived the Grecian's plastic ease, 

Till men and maidens danced along 
In youth perpetual on his frieze ! 

Where lies that mould of senses fine 
Men knew as Keats awhile ago, 

We cannot trace a single sign 

Of all that made his joy below. 

There are no trees to talk of him 

Who knew their hushes and their swells, 
Where myriad leaves in forest dim 

Build up their cloudy citadels. 

No mystic-signaled passion-flowers 

Spread their flat discs, while buds more fair 
Swing like great bells, in frail green towers. 

To toll away the summer air. 



[32] 

O Mother Earth ! thy sides he bound 
With far-off Venus' warmer zone, 

With stateher sons thy landscape crowned, 

Whose chiming voices matched thine own ! 

O Mother Earth, what hast thou brought 
This tender frame that loved thee well ? 

Harsh grass and weeds alone are wrought 
On his low grave's uneven swell. 

Rome, March 20, 1851. 



AVIGNON 

The July day grew to a close, the fret of travel passed. 
The cool and moonlit court-yard of the inn was gained at last, 
Where oleanders greeted us between their stately ranks. 
As pink and proud as if they grew on native Indian banks : 
Seen from our chamber-window's ledge, they looked more 

strangely fair. 
Like blossomed baskets, lightly poised upon the summer air. 

When came the sultry morning sun, I did not care to go 
On dusty roads, but stayed to see my oleanders glow 
Within their shadowy oasis ; — the pilgrimage was long 
To Petrarch's home; hot alien winds dried up his dewy song; — 
Though Laura's cheek, with centuries sweet, still blushes at 

his call. 
Her blush was not so bright as yours, my oleanders tall ! 

And fiercer grew the summer day, while in the court below. 
The white-capped peasant-women kept moving to and fro. 



[34] 

With little laughs, and endless talks, whose murmur rose to me 

Like the spring-chats of careless birds from blossomed apple- 
tree; 

And, hearing it, I blessed the choice that kept me there that 
day, 

With my stately oleanders keeping all the world at bay. 

The masonry of Nismes was lost, but still I could not sigh, 
For Roman work looks sad when we have bidden Rome good- 
bye; 
Prison and castle of the Pope stood close upon the hill, 
But of castle and of prison my soul had had its fill ; — 
I knew that blood-stains, old and dark, clung to the inner wall. 
And blessed the lovely, living bloom of oleanders tall. 

Thou pleasant, pleasant court-yard, I make to thee a crown 
Of gems from Murray's casket, then shut the red lid down. 
Contented if I still may keep, beneath a sky of blue. 
The tender treasure of the day when first my spirit knew 
Thy quiet, and thy shadow, and thy bird-like gossip, all 
Inclosed within that sunset wreath of oleanders tall. 



ROUEN, PLACE DE LA PUCELLE 

Here blooms the legend, fed by Time and Chance, 
Fresh as the morning, though with centuries old. 

The whitest lily on the shield of France, 
With heart of virgin gold. 

Along the square she moved, sweet Joan of Arc, 
With face more pallid than a daylit star. 

Half-seen, half -doubted, while before her dark 
Stretched the array of war. 

Swift passed the battle-smoke of lying breath 
From oif her path, as if a wind had blown. 

Showing no faithless King, but righteous Death, 
On the low wooden throne. 

He would reward her : she who meekly wore 
Alike the gilded mail and peasant gown. 

As meekly now received one honor more. 
The formless, fiery crown. 



[36] 

A white dove trembled up the heated air. 

And in the opening zenith found its goal; 

Soft as a downward feather, dropped a prayer 
For each repentant soul. 



THE SICK-ROOM 

A SPIRIT is treading the earth, 

As wind treads the vibrating string; 
I know thy feet so beautiful. 

Thy punctual feet, O Spring! 

They slide from far-off mountains. 
As slides the untouched snow ; 

They move over deepening meadows. 
As vague cloud-shadows blow. 

Thou wilt not enter the chamber. 
The door stands open in vain ; 

Thou art pluming the wands of cherry 
To lattice the window pane. 

Thou flushest the sunken orchard 
With the lift of thy rosy wing; 

The peach will not part with her sunrise 
Though great noon-bells should ring. 



[38] 

O life, and light, and gladness, 

Tumultuous everywhere ! 
O pain and benumbing sadness, 

That brood in the heavy air ! 

Here the fire alone is busy. 

And wastes, like the fever's heat, 

The wood that enshrined past summers, 
Past summers as bounteous as fleet. 

The beautiful hanging gardens 

That rocked in the morning wind. 

And sheltered a dream of Faery, 
And life so timid and kind. 

The shady choir of the bobolink. 

The race-course of squirrels gay, — 

They are changed into trembling smoke- wreaths. 
And a heap of ashes gray. 



AN OPIUM FANTASY 

Soft hangs the opiate in the brain, 
And lulhng soothes the edge of pain. 
Till harshest sound, far off or near. 
Sings floating in its mellow sphere. 

What wakes me from my heavy dream ? 

Or am I still asleep ? 
Those long and soft vibrations seem 

A slumberous charm to keep. 

The graceful play, a moment stopped, 

Distance again unrolls. 
Like silver balls, that, softly dropped, 

Ring into golden bowls. 

I question of the poppies red, 
The fairy flaunting band. 

While I a weed, with drooping head, 
Within their phalanx stand. 



[40] 

■* Some airy one, with scarlet cap, 
The name unfold to me 
Of this new minstrel, who can lap 
Sleep in his melody ? " 

Bright grew their scarlet-kerchiefed heads. 
As freshening winds had blown. 

And from their gently swaying beds 
They sang in undertone, 

" Oh, he is but a little owl, 

The smallest of his kin. 
Who sits beneath the midnight's cowl. 
And makes this airy din." 

" Deceitful tongues, of fiery tints, 

Far more than this you know, — 
That he is your enchanted prince. 
Doomed as an owl to go ; 

" Nor his fond play for years hath stopped. 
But nightly he unrolls 
His silver balls, that, softly dropped, 
Ring into golden bowls." 



SONNET 

These rugged wintry days I scarce could bear. 

Did I not know that in the early spring, 

When wild March winds upon their errands sing, 

Thou wouldst return, bursting on this still air, 

Like those same winds, when, startled from their lair. 

They hunt up violets and free swift brooks 

From icy cares, even as thy clear looks 

Bid my heart bloom and sing and break all care : 

When drops with welcome rain the April day. 

My flowers shall find their April in thine eyes ; 

But there the rain in dreamy clouds doth stay. 

As loath to fall out of those happy skies ; 

And sure, my love, thou art most like to May, 

That comes, with steady sun, when April dies. 



SONNET 

In the deep flushing of the Western sky, 

The new moon stands as she would fain be gone, 

And, dropping earthward, greet Endymion : 

If Death uphft me, even thus should I, 

Companioned by the silver spirits high 

And stationed on the sunset's crimson towers, 

Bend longing over earth's broad stretch of bowers, 

To where my love beneath their shades might lie; 

For I should weary of the endless blue, 

Should weary of my ever-growing light. 

If that one soul, so beautiful and true. 

Were hidden by earth's vapors from my sight. 

Should wane and wane as changeful planets do. 

And move on slowly, wrapt in mine own night. 



SONNET 



TO 



I LOVE thee — not because thy love for me, 

Like a great sunrise, did o'ervault my day 

With purple light, and wrought upon my way 

The morning dew in fresh emblazonry; 

Nor that thou seest all I fain would be, 

And thus dost call me by mine angel's name. 

While still my woman's heart beats free of blame 

Beneath the shelter of thy charity. 

Oh, no ! for wearily upon my soul 

Would weigh thy golden crown of unbought praise. 

Did I not look beyond the hour's control. 

To where those fruits of perfect virtue raise 

Their bloom, that thou erewhile, with prophet eyes. 

Didst name mine own, in groves of paradise. 



SONNET 

I LOVE thee for thyself alone — thyself alone; 

For that great soul, whose breath most full and rare. 

Shall to humanity a message bear, 

Flooding their dreary waste with organ-tone : 

The truth that in thine eyes holds starry throne 

And coins the words that issue from thy lips ; 

Heroic courage, that meets no eclipse. 

And humbler virtues on thy pathway strewn ; — 

These love I so, that if they swift uprise 

To sure fulfilment in more perfect spheres. 

Still will I listen underneath the skies 

For thy new song, with seldom-dropping tears. 

And midst my daily tasks of love will wait 

The angel Death, guardian of Heaven's gate. 



MEMORIES OP WATERS 

(an unfinished poem, found among her 
papers) 

Oh, hue of the Mediterranean sea. 

From thy sapphire cradle flash back on me ! 

Thine is the bluest life that clings 

To the weary earth; bright central springs 

Bubble up with thine azure, and never fail, 

Though the great dome above thee curve cloudy and pale; 

When the sunset lingers by Capri's side 
And throws across it a golden fleece, 
Thou swellest along in bluest pride. 
Stretching on, on, on, to beautiful Greece; 
And siren voices drip with the oar; 
" Deeper, bend deeper, to learn our lore. 
The violet's secret grows not on the shore." 



[46] 

And thou, O Como, O purple one. 
Did I not watch thee when day was done, 
With cheek bent sideway and half -closed eyes, 
That wooed from thy beauty a fresh surprise, 
As a great broad curtain, dropping down 
From the sweet horizon's ample crown, 

A Tyrian curtain, whose edges were wrought 
With villas and gardens, and all that thought 
Can find most lovely in dwellings of men. 
Deep fringes of vineyards all round thee, and then 
A dream of great snow-peaks throned over all — 
Thy purple is worthy those kings so tall. 

In the hills of Scotland, you come upon 
Strange waterfalls, that the light of the sun 
Glances away from through birches thin ; 
They fall with a slow and hollow din 
Into dark, still pools where you look down deep 
To see the black surface; no Lorelei there 
Sits singing and combing her golden hair; 
But Bunyan's visions across you creep. 
With a haunting feeling of one who came, 
Her heart all trembling and stung with shame. 



[47] 

And, bending down to the pool's black stir. 
Saw Giant Despair looking up at her, 
And heard him call from the hollow din 
Till she, too ready, sank sighing in. 

Pour down, O Trenton, thy amber screen 
That the pool's dim surface no more be seen ! 
Gay reveller, tossing away thy wine. 
Thy golden sherry, whose hue divine 
Was never sphered in the clustering vine; 
'T is Autumn who feeds thee ; her banners she flings 
Across thy full sources, and shakes in thy springs 
Her whole wealth of colors, leaves orange and red. 
Green, purple and mottled, an emperor's bed 
For thy waters to dream on; and when they awake. 
Into flashes of gold and of amber they break : 
Oh, type of glad youth, forever be hung 
With garlands of faces all rosy and young ! 



END 



THREE HUNDRED AND THIRTY COPIES 
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BOSTON AND NEW YORK. NO. < ^"^ 



OOOOOO 000000 

THE 
POEMS 

OF 

MARIA 

LOWELL 

oooooooooooo